New England Leaders React to High Speed Rail Funding Awards

Today, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced that Amtrak and 15 states would receive funding for a variety of high speed rail projects.  The $2 billion in funding awarded by the Obama Administration today stems from funding that the state of Florida rejected earlier this year.

The Northeast received the largest share of the federal funding, with an unprecedented $795 million designated for improvements to the Northeast Corridor that connects New England to New York and Washington, DC.  In addition, $30 million was awarded to Connecticut for the Springfield-New Haven line, and $20.8 million for improvements to the Massachusetts to Maine Downeaster line.

The New England Council—a longtime advocate of high speed rail as a means to promote economic growth—praised the Administration’s decision to award so much of the funding to projects that benefit the region. Here’s what other leaders in New England had to say about today’s news:

Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy:
“This is great news and a win for the State of Connecticut as we seek to increase mass transportation throughout the region in order to create new jobs and make our state more attractive to businesses.  The rail project will form the backbone of an interconnected, regional rail network linking key economic centers through the northeast corridor.  Supporting up to 50 daily passenger trains and reaching speeds up to 110 miles an hour, this line will provide some of the best rail service in the nation.”

Maine Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins:

“This is a major investment in the Downeaster that will fund infrastructure improvements and help improve the rail line’s service, speed, and reliability. In addition, it will help improve mobility in Maine and around New England, increase rail ridership, and create needed jobs.”

Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed:

“This is great news for Rhode Island.  The state is receiving an additional $28 million in new high-speed rail funding that will be put to work improving our infrastructure and expanding rail service to more Rhode Islanders.  Investing in high-speed rail will help boost economic development, reduce congestion on our roadways, and give Rhode Islanders more transportation opportunities.  Rhode Island is a key piece of the busy Northeast Corridor and I commend Secretary LaHood for his leadership and efforts to improve our nation’s transportation infrastructure through wise federal investments.”

Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse:

“With so many Rhode Islanders struggling to keep up with rising costs at the pump, high speed rail construction can provide many good-paying jobs, while strengthening our Northeast Rail Corridor to give Rhode Islanders new, convenient, environmentally sound transportation options.  This is an important investment in our state’s future.”

Rhode Island Congressman Jim Langevin:
“We should be leaving no stone unturned in pursuing ways to create jobs and these projects will have both immediate and long-term benefit for generating opportunities in Rhode Island.  We are seeing improvements, but we can and must accelerate them by focusing on areas that have the greatest impact, which is why Congressman Cicilline and I wrote to Secretary LaHood about the importance of investing these funds in the Northeast Corridor and, specifically, our state. These projects can bring immediate construction jobs and a better transportation system will be needed for the Ocean State to attract more business in the future.”

Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline:
“After beating the drum for several years as the Mayor of Providence about the need to improve the efficiency of our region’s transportation network, I’m glad that together, our congressional delegation was able to help deliver $28 million in federal funding for high speed rail in Rhode Island. These resources come to our state at a critical time when our infrastructure has pressing needs and that’s why, earlier this year, Congressman Langevin and I made Secretary LaHood aware of the necessity of these funds in Rhode Island. Jim and I know these resources are an investment in job and economic opportunities for our region, will help reduce energy consumption and generate sustained economic activity.”

In addition, members of the Massachusetts delegation issued a joint press release reacting to the news.

For more information on The New England Council’s work on high speed rail and other transportation infrastructure issues, please visit the Transportation page.

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